Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Christmas Hampers

Do you remember the time, before the internet, when every home had a big fat catalogue for mail order shopping - Kays or Littlewoods, Freemans or Grattan?

It was Kays for us and my favourite thing when I was little was looking through the Winter catalogue and choosing what toys I would have if only I could buy them all. Then I would turn to the pages with all the Christmas Hampers and think what fun it would be to have a huge box of Christmassy food arrive.

I've always liked the idea of a Christmas Hamper. Years ago I was on a playgroup committee and we came up with the idea of  all the parents donating items of food to make a big hamper for a Christmas raffle fundraiser. So much was donated I suggested that we divide it all up to make 3 smaller boxes to give more mums a chance to win but I was over ruled and the person who won the huge box full was someone who could easily have afforded to buy it ten times over while those of us on a tight budget had to smile and grit our teeth ! ( You can tell  I've never forgotten it!)

The Lakeland Catalogue is the only one I see nowadays, they do small Hampers at extortionate prices. But I can see the catch with a hamper,  because there are always one or two things that either I've already made or I would never eat.

So I  decided as I was unlikely ever to win a hamper or have one given me, I would do my own. Every time I go shopping between now and Christmas I will buy one thing that we don't usually have and add it to a box. This way everything will be something we like. If I put the things in a box without looking at what's there already perhaps I will have forgotten what I've bought and it will all be a surprise when we come to open it.

I googled Christmas Hampers and this came up

A Waitrose Hamper which costs £200!!!! Very Posh.
  • Waitrose Brut NV Champagne 75cl
  • Waitrose Ruby Port 75cl
  • McWilliams Silverwood Pinot Grigio 75cl
  • Houghton The Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 75cl
  • Arden & Amici Almond & Chocolate Chip Biscotti 180g
  • Brodies Traditional Scottish Christmas Tea in Caddy 125g
  • Buiteman Parmigiano Reggiano Biscuits 75g
  • Convivial Yorkshire Cheddar & Caramelised Onion Chutney Crisps 100g
  • Joe & Seph's Brandy Butter Popcorn 80g
  • Linden Lady Handmade 15 Luxury Chocolates 240g
  • Maxwell & Franks Christmas Pudding with Cider 454g
  • Panettone Classico in Gold Wrap 500g
  • The Dormen Caramelised Almonds 95g
  • Waitrose Olympian Olives in Brine 300g
  • Waitrose Seriously Chocolatey All Butter Triple Chocolate Biscuits 125g
  • Waitrose Bittersweet Seville Orange Fresh Fruit Marmalade 340g
  • Waitrose Bright & Tangy Wild Cranberry Sauce 205g
  • Waitrose Rich, Smooth & Well Balanced Colombian Ground Coffee 227g
  • Waitrose Rich, Sweet & Crumbly All Butter Shortbread Selection 450g
Yes you read it right, this picture shows what you get for £200. Of course you get a basket and free delivery which makes it OK for them to charge this much?!  My hamper won't be quite so extravagant.

I started yesterday with a box of chocolate biscuits for £4

I shall let you know how my hamper progresses.

Thanks for all the comments yesterday, Captain Shagrat asked for the tuna quiche recipe. It was just a small tin of tuna chunks drained, chopped parsley and chives, some sliced tomato, black pepper and covered with a mix of 2 eggs beaten and a bit of milk. Sorry, I'm very vague on measurements as with a quiche I just guesstimate what I need. It was cooked on high for about 15 mins while the scones were in the oven then moved to the Rayburn which wasn't hot enough to do scones but finished off the quiche.

Back Tomorrow


  1. I've started to but a few things each week too. It's the old fashioned way and it pleases me greatly. I also think we consider more what we are buying when we do it over a longer period. I've also bought several presents, almost ahead of myself.


  2. We do a similar thing with the beavers its a good fundraiser. I always buy a few things to add to a box for Christmas and I make up a hamper for my godparents as never know what to get. I always put some bits that they wouldn't normally buy in it. It's a great way to spread cost.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Sorry I deleted my comment, spelling errors.
      You can make a hamper just as nice at a fraction of the price, I used to have mail order catalogues and remember the prices of the hampers, they worked out nearly four times more in price than if you had bought the things yourself in the supermarket, its just crazy, I look out for baskets and the charity shop, buy a roll of cellophane, simples .

  4. I do a similar thing buy a few bits each week and then have a lot of luxuries for the Christmas period. I

  5. I've always put a box up for Christmas and then brought the extra items we need and put them - it makes that last shop before Christmas that much easier and cheaper - I also clear half a drawer in the freezer and have brought party foods and ice creams etc weekly in preparation - we used to have the Gratton catalogue too nowadays I sit my grand daughters down with the Argos catalogues to circle some items to give me ideas on what they would like xx

  6. One of the main reasons I don't do committees etc. Can't be doing with the "politics" of it all!! Love your idea of the DIY hamper. Much better than the over-priced bought ones. Even the Fairpak ones were highly overrated for what you actually got. I never subscribed but did once do the math on what it actually cost to buy the items compared to what they charged and got quite a shock at how expensive it actually was.

  7. Finally found time to check through your war time book photographs. Have put some on my wish list, maybe they will be chosen

  8. What a great idea, a personalised hamper. Like you I've always fancied a posh hamper. All that luxury and style so unlike my own life! However like you I look at half the contents and start thinking well what on earth would I do with a bottle of Port and pickled eggs! Getting it yourself means that you only buy what your family likes. Keep us posted on the Christmas hamper progress : ))

  9. Hamper day was a huge event back in the 60s when we were kids, the highlights were pear shaped ham and quality street , the low lights were the ghastly tinned salmon with the gritty bits and tinned asparagus

    1. Tinned asparagus - doesn't sound nice at all, it must have been a luxury in the 60s.

  10. I have a friend who makes hampers up for pressies all year round, They are packed for the recipients hobbies, various cooking, wine buffs [small bottles] She buys stuff all year from many sources.

  11. What a good idea! I could make one to take with me at Christmas. But maybe not a good idea for a long journey by public transport, especially as it involves crossing London! I already have to assess the weight of the presents that go in my suitcase. And the Christmas pudding has to be factored in. Still a very good thing to do though..

  12. Why would anyone pay over the odds for someone elses choice of goodies. Buy the hamper and fill it yourself..... much more sensible.

  13. I used to love the catalogue. I used to set a budget and choose all the things that I would have in my own place (I was 10) of course the hampers were going to feed me with lots of goodies! Xxx

  14. Last year I made Cornish food hampers for Xmas presents for the family who live the other side of the border. Everything they contained was made in Cornwall, fudge, wine, chocolate, biscuits etc each slightly different and presented in a pretty whicker basket that could be used again. The money went to little local businesses and no waste.

  15. I had a Littlewoods AND Freemans catalogue ... oh those were the days everything on credit and permanently paying it off in weekly amounts :-( I used to wish for the hampers and drooled over the pages but had to buy just what we were desperate for.

    Now times have changed and we are lucky enough to get an F & M hamper every year off the company LH works through. It's a lovely treat, but I much prefer my 'buy one thing every time I go shopping treat cupboard', just like you are doing, it has things in it that we actually know we love and consider as treats. The food we don't eat from the hampers gets donated to the local Foodbank trolley in Sainsbugs, I hope someone actually enjoys it and doesn't think we're just taking the p*ss.

  16. Last year I made a Christmas stocking from some spare red material and filled it with toiletries for my mum-in-law. She loved it and said it had kept her stocked up for a long time. It didn't cost much - toothpaste, toothbrush, cotton wool pads for removing make-up, small travel packs of tissues, a bar of soap, small sponges etc. I wrapped them up individually. Another idea for Christmas presents which I've done is to buy a range of cards eg birthdays, thinking of you, thank you and some stamps. You could also add a pad of writing paper and some envelopes and perhaps a nice pen. I would love to receive a hamper. We used to get one from my husband's work but they seem to have stopped. I prefer to receive something useful x

  17. I love the idea of a Christmas hamper of food, although they are not very common in the US. I also love the idea of making one of my own a little at a time. We will be traveling over Christmas and this will be just the thing to take along! Thanks for the idea.

  18. Brilliant idea ! This will be my first Christmas without either of my children, so the hamper will be for me, one cat and one dog !